From Sunken Temple to Blackrock Depths

19th January 2010 – 5.51 pm

We have all reached 50th level and been instructed by our class trainers to visit the Sunken Temple. Our path before us is clear. But, wait, Qattara is a level above us. She's broken the covenant! Oh, she mentions something about the drop rate for her Sunken Temple class quest pre-requisite being poor, and that she is only a handful of XP in to the forbidden level, but this is clearly an escalation of previous competition. I will not be surprised if Livya retaliates after this, having been two levels below us all in Zul'Farrak. For now, we head in to the depths of the Sunken Temple, hoping that our descent is only literal, and not metaphorical for our continuing journey. To lighten the mood, Vulzerda gets her draenei boobs out.

Previous weeks of boasting about my intimate knowledge of the layout of the Sunken Temple are soon put to the test. Simply getting to the entrance of the instance can seem tricky. The route quickly comes back to me, and has nothing to do with large tribal masks hung along the correct path at every junction. Inside the instance, there are four paths, all heading in different directions, and all leading to a different level of the temple. Instead of being a straightforward romp along a mostly linear path, the Sunken Temple has several tiers, all of which can be visited in any order via separate paths. But I know the way. Our first destination is the lowest level, where we need to determine the order with which to activate the altar.

'Can't we just look it up on the wiki?', asks Livya. We could, but our mission is to explore and experience Azeroth in all its glory, like a first exposure. We are here for adventure in the Sunken Temple, to fight our way through it like a group on its virgin visit, albeit without the wasted time of getting lost. 'Anyone who hadn't been here before would look up how to activate the altar on a wiki.' Be quiet, we're doing this the hard way. Besides, I've already flawlessly guided us to the right place, without any jumping down of levels. So the altar is activated, the order of the green lights is noted according to proximate compass points, and we head back up to activate the statues in the correct order.

With the altar activated and the path below cleared, it makes sense to take the short-cut of jumping down to face the first boss. Quick work is made of the big troll monster, and I get a neat new piece of armour as a result. From here, we go up two levels to the minor troll bosses, who drop feathers for the class quests. Again, finding the right level and all of the six bosses is easy with me as a guide, and our little group plucks all the feathers from their bodies. We certainly don't have an unfortunate paladin and warlock in the party who fail to collect a feather each, the despawned corpses needing us to complete the instance, reset it, and return to get the missing quest items. This isn't an amateur group of idiots.

After the trolls, we face dragons, so it is up to the top level for dragon-slaying. The main chamber is emptied of dragons, Vulzerda skinning each one of them, although she almost gets a bit carried away. 'Oh no, I've just skinned Livya! Wait, no, that's her over there with you, this must be someone else's skeleton.' Getting rid of the dragon's bodies makes room for us to enjoy the other feature of the Sunken Temple. The instance is remembered both for being labyrinthine, but also for the hole in the top floor that falls right to the bottom. In every new group, someone inevitably drops to their death by not noticing the hole until it is too late, or not gauging from such a height that the water is only ankle-deep. Luckily, we are an experienced group, so we are all aware of the pit and the peril it presents. Unluckily, Qattara's cat has apparently not visited the Sunken Temple before, and a short rest next to the hole and cat-like typing results in Qattara plummetting over the edge.

Extraordinarily enough, a soulstone is active at the time, so Qattara uses it to return to life, Livya then summoning Qattara back up to the top level, avoiding the lengthy run up the stairs. There are a few more dragons to deal with on the path to Jammalan the Prophet, so whilst we deal with the problem of the fallen druid we let the imp loose again. After his exemplary performance at clearing Zul'Farrak when we got bored, he is keen to show he is equally as efficient at slaying dragons as trolls.

The way to Jammalan the Prophet is clear, and the fight is smooth, even with the mind control causing friendly fire at a couple of points. At least, mind compulsion was the excuse for attacking me. The spirit of Hakkar is just around the corner, and although not all of us gained a sinful level to get the quest, extinguishing the flames to make Hakkar vulnerable is completed without problems. We don't dare ask any questions when Qattara fills her egg with Hakkar's essence. From there, we only have the Shade of Erakinus left to defeat. I keep Erakinus turned away from the group, as he probably has nasty breath, to which Vulzerda points out that he has a nasty bum too. 'Have you ever seen a nice bum?', I ask, before being reminded that Vulzerda has an internet connection. I take a nap during the fight, letting others get bitten for a change, and we all remember to complete the quest within the room, rather than escaping the instance under the assumption that we probably have to hand it in on a different continent.

The whole run has been remarkably smooth, mostly because of the completely flawless navigation through the mutli-tiered maze of the Sunken Temple that confuses lesser adventurers. Never a wrong turn is taken, every objective is completed in an efficient order, and whoever makes the effort to journal our adventures gets the benefit of editorial revisions. I bet Livya won't be as sure in her efforts to guide us through Blackrock Depths. Indeed, so quick and efficient is our Sunken Temple visit that we have enough time to attempt an initial exploratory delve in to the Depths. We could at least attempt to get the Shadowforge Key, hopefully so we can get Blackrock Depths completed in only two visits. We travel to Searing Gorge and head in to the visually stunning heart of Blackrock Mountain, jogging across the connecting chain to reach our new objective.

The first challenge for getting the Shadowforge Key is picking up the quest. The NPC who holds the quest is a ghost, and only other ghosts can interact with him. Someone has to take one for the team. As fortune would have it, this is not only Livya's choice of instances to play her joker, but being a warlock gives access to life tap and hellfire spells, providing an easy combination with which to beocome a corpse. Livya runs back from the graveyard, talks to the ghostly dwarf, and shares the quest with us. Unfortunately, Livya's 'encyclopaedic' knowledge of Blackrock Depths doesn't extend as far as realising the quest with the dwarf is a two-part chain, requiring every party member to corpsify themselves at some point and collect a secondary quest that leads to getting the key. We find this out after our first BRD wipe, where the soulstone had 'only just run out', and Qattara and Vulzerda note the question mark above the dwarf's head as they run back to the instance.

Meanwhile, Livya and I have taken the raider's short-cut, traditionally used when returning to Molten Core after a wipe, jumping over the ledge on to a stone ramp just above the lava instead of running back down the chain. We are distracted by the other pair's quest discovery by our arguing about whether it is a Horde or Alliance-discovered short-cut. Once we realise that we've both bypassed the dwarf, and missed out on getting the quest for the key, we argue again about whose short-cut it is, but curiously both from the opposite perspective than before. Livya has time to turn around and get the quest, but I am back in the instance and alive, and the quest cannot be shared. Getting the key isn't terribly important, particularly as three of us will have it soon enough, but I would rather like it for the 'Keymaster' achievement. Livya obliges by pushing me off a bridge in to some lava, offering me a new opportunity to pick up the key quest. Thanks, Livya!

Without the Shadowforge Key, Blackrock Depths can be reduced to an almost-linear path. Of course, there are tempting side-routes to take, but they are either dead-ends, loops, or ultimately blocked by Shadowforge locks. Livya encourages us to 'clear the whole dungeon, so we can properly absorb the atmosphere', but I think the heat is getting to her. The heat has also got to the mobs, with many of them immune to fire damage. The fire immunity causes Blackrock Depths's only advocate to wail that 'half my arsenal is obsolete, this dungeon is rubbish!' She teases, though, because we plough through the first ante-chamber, defeat the monsters in the Ring of Law to appease the spectating crowd, and find the holder of the artefact that creates the key. But being an MMORPG, there is just one more boss a couple of minutes further down the path, so we take time to defeat fire elemental Lord Incendius. And then head a bit further down to see if Bael'Gar is at the end of the corridor. Once we find out that he is, and that we can encounter him quickly on our next visit if we have the key, we follow our footsteps back to complete the quest for the Shadowforge Key. Our intermediate goal is complete, and we head back home.

Back in Stormwind, there is sadly no RP for us this week, the cathedral being strangely empty. A disappointed Vulzerda uses her hearthstone to get back from the Stormwind Cathedral to the inn in Stormwind, citing it as 'quicker than running'. The night ends with us now able unlock the rest of Blackrock Depths. Being able to bypass the areas we have already visited makes it easier to attempt a full run to rescue the Princess of Ironforge from Emperor Thaurissan. I may need to get a green version of Vulzerda's outfit if we don't want to find the princess is in another Blackrock Depths. Livya can easily be mistaken for one of the midget mushroom people, and Qattara can turn in to a tree. I'm not sure how that last point is relevant, though. Next week, we'll return Princess Bronzebeard to Ironforge, or she'll die trying. It promises to be long.

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